Australian Journal of Environmental Education

Published by Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Online ISSN: 2049-775X
Print ISSN: 0814-0626
Any discussion of curriculum should consider the social setting, especially the relationship between schools and society and its influence on curriculum decisions…. Curriculum decisions take place in a complex social setting, through demands that are imposed by society and filter down to schools (Ornstein and Hunkins, 1988: 114). Context is an important element in understanding the nature of the curriculum in any field and its goals. Thus, Cornbleth (1988: 89) describes curriculum as “an ongoing social activity shaped by various contextual influences within and beyond the classroom”. She argues that curriculum is a “contextualized social process” which: … cannot be understood adequately … without attention to its setting or context. Curriculum is contextually shaped…. (C)urriculum emerges from the dynamic interaction of action, reflection and setting (Cornbleth, 1990: 6-7) Similarly, Berlak and Berlak (1981: 24) write of the need to investigate teachers' decision making in terms of “the social, cultural and political forces and structures that are omnipresent in all social situations”. Sharp and Green (1975) argue that comprehensive explanations of teaching require an investigation of the “sociology of situations, their underlying structure and interconnections and the constraints and contingencies they impose” (p. 25).
Activities in environmental education in the United States during the 1980s are summarized, in terms of audiences involved--formal (school), college/university, and nonformal. Discussion focuses on specific programs and materials, in summary fashion. Trends are noted, and speculative projections into the 1990s are offered. (36 references) (Author)
Science education in the Australian primary school curriculum is a relatively rare event. Several studies over the past twenty five years have all reported disappointingly low amounts of science being taught and the reluctance of primary school teachers to make science a priority in their teaching. Similar outcomes have been reported for environmental education. Even though primary aged children are very interested in science and the environment, primary school teachers often struggle to teach science/environmental education because they are not confident and competent in the content, lack curriculum resources and equipment, have inadequate time to prepare, and have difficulty finding a place for science/environmental education in what they perceive as an already overcrowded curriculum. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the experiences of primary schools involved in the Victorian Science in Schools Research Project which was concerned with improving science teaching and learning strategies but which also unexpectedly led to more environmental ("sustainability") education occurring. The paper will also suggest a curriculum strategy for achieving more widespread acceptance and implementation of "sustainability education" through primary school science curricula. (Contains 6 endnotes.)
Using survey methodology, students’ beliefs, and willingness to act, about 16 specific actions related to global warming are compared across the primary secondary interface. More primary students believed in the effectiveness of most actions to reduce global warming and were willing to take those actions. In general there was a disparity between students’ beliefs and their actions and explanations are proffered for these differences. Characteristics that distinguish primary from secondary schooling are proposed for the variations across the interface and these have implications for practice.
Education has an enormously important role to play in motivating and empowering citizens to participate in environmental improvement and protection. Nearly three decades ago, Schumacher (1973) described education as our ‘greatest resource’ in his endeavour. In the last decade, major international reports have stressed this also. The theme of the Brundtland Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), Caring for the Earth: A Strategy for Sustainable Living (prepared as the World Conservation Strategy for the 1990s) (1991), and Agenda 21 (the Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro) (1992) is that it is possible to sustain ways of living that can redress environmental decline without jeopardising the ecosystem or resources base for the future. Each report speaks to the imperative of education to engender this ethic (see Fien 1995). In the Asia-Pacific region also, education has been identified as a critical factor and countries have adopted a range of strategies for implementing programs in environmental education. Many workshops and training programs have been organised since 1986 Regional Meeting of Experts in Bangkok at which an action plan was developed for environmental education from primary through post graduate levels. Significant work is taking place in redefining environmental education in a Pacific context, particularly to incorporate concepts of sustainable development. Much exploration of how teacher education can rise to the occasion of the great need for environmental education and for teacher education in environmental education is on-going in the region (see Fien & Corcoran 1996).
How can an organisation move from awareness raising, in the form of natural history poster production, to the development of systems that change organisations? Through close integration of research and practice, the Gould League has achieved this transformation. It began with extensive research into best practice environmental education, going beyond the traditional boundaries of environmental education to areas that included the psychology of culture change, business management, systems thinking, governance, drug education, marketing and organisational psychology. This broad approach to research has led to the development of highly effective sustainability education programs, such as Waste Wise Schools and Sustainable Schools. The Waste Wise Schools Program, funded by EcoRecycle Victoria and managed in consultation with the Gould League, is an action-based waste education program. Originating in Victoria in 1998, it has been adopted by over a third of Victorian schools and has led to widespread outcomes, including waste reductions of up to 95%. There is strong evidence from surveys that this program is sustainable in schools over time and research confirms that the program is contributing to changes in the waste-wise thinking and behaviour of the families of the children at these schools. A model for culture change in schools, based on the experiences of the Waste Wise Schools Program, has also been developed. This model, a valuable tool in the continual improvement of Waste Wise Schools, has applications to sustainability education in general.
Despite the increasing importance of, and interest in, documenting the impact of environmental education programs on students' learning for sustainability, few tools are currently available to measure young students' environmental learning across all the dimensions of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours. This paper reports on the development of such a tool, using an iterative action research process with 134 students, aged six to eleven, attending programs at an Environmental Education Centre in Queensland. The resulting instrument, the Environmental Learning Outcomes Survey (ELOS) incorporates observations of students' engagement in learning processes as well as measuring learning outcomes, and allows both of these aspects to be linked to particular components of the environmental education program. Test data using the instrument are reported to illustrate its potential usefulness. It is envisaged that the refined instrument will enable researchers to measure student environmental learning in the field, investigate environmental education program impacts and identify aspects of programs that are most effective in facilitating student learning. [Author abstract]
Community-based environmental education is an important part of the sustainability project. Along with regulation and market-based instruments, adult learning and education in non-formal settings consistently features in the sustainability strategies advocated and implemented by government, community and industry entities. Community-situated environmental education programs often feature didactic “messaging”™, public awareness and community-based social marketing approaches. Clearly, these approaches have limited capacity to stimulate the social learning necessary to reorient toward sustainability. Popular education provides a framework to break from these dominant modes of environmental communication and education and achieve outcomes of a different order. Popular educators build curriculum from the daily lives of community members, address their social, political and structural change priorities, and emphasise collective rather than individual learning. Their work creates opportunities for education as social action, education for social action, and learning through social action. Case studies from Australia and the United States highlight opportunities for community educators to draw on the traditions and practices of popular education. Residents of contaminated communities organise “toxic tours”™ to bolster their campaigns for remediation. Residents and conservationists concerned about freeway construction incorporate learning strategies in their campaign plan to enhance peer learning, mentoring and prospects of long-term success. Advocacy organisations and research institutions work together to create formal and informal educational programs to strengthen and learn from social action. The principles derived from these case studies offer a starting point for collaboration and action research.
As a matter of survival, we need to educate current and future generations to live sustainably. We need to ensure that future generations have access to quality environmental education. This paper provides guidelines for educators and managers to use to better understand and manage the learning environment in which environmental education, particularly sustainability, programs take place. This is done through the introduction of two tools. Firstly, through a model of the learning environment that can be used to understand the educational environment and its various interactions and secondly, through the introduction of an Adaptive Management Conceptual Framework. This framework provides a step by step approach to guide the process of assessing the state of the current learning environment, and to guide the processes of decision making and implementation by educators. These tools have broad application to a variety of educational environments; schools, universities and community education. A specific case study of the application of these tools in a university environmental science degree is outlined.
Results of action research involving 30 middle school students from Detroit indicated that all the students were concerned about classic environmental issues. Three ways of thinking about pollution and environmental problems emerged: (1) the personalistic view; (2) the technocratic view; and (3) the politicized view. (Contains 40 references.) (MDH)
Despite good intentions, many environmental education (EE) projects seem to fall short in realising ambitious learning goals such as “helping citizens become environmentally knowledgeable, skilled and dedicated people who are willing to work individually and collectively, toward achieving and/or maintaining a dynamic equilibrium between the quality of life and the quality of the environment.” (Harvey cited in Hungerford et al., 1980). Without always challenging the nature and content of these goals, many researchers and practitioners are trying to resolve this discrepancy between the theory and practice of EE. Some have tried to instrumentally structure EE content matter by using hierarchical levels of universal goals and objectives (e.g. Hungerford et al., 1980; Marcinkowski, 1990) whereas others who question the value or the status of universal goals and objectives, have put emphasis on contextual development of EE within the school community (e.g. Bull et al., 1988; Robottom, 1987). However, relatively little attention has been paid to the way young people come to make sense of their own environment through their everyday interactions with(in) the lifeworld. For more than fifty years constructivist approaches to learning have suggested that the pre-instructional perceptions (also referred to as “mini-theories” and “misconceptions”) of the learner play a key role in successful learning or lack thereof (Ausubel, 1968; Driver and Oldham, 1986; Freyberg and Osborne, 1981; Gilbert and Watts, 1983; Hasweh, 1986; Novak and Gowin, 1984, Wals, 1987) Yet, unlike the English teacher who is very capable of determining at what “level” her students are, environmental educators have little understanding of students' perceptions of the environment and environmental issues, and the “mini-theories” to which they lead.
Field experiences for young children are an ideal medium for environmental education/education for sustainability because of opportunities for direct experience in nature, integrated learning, and high community involvement. This research documented the development - in 4-5 year old Prep children - of knowledge, attitudes and actions/advocacy in support of an endangered native Australian animal, the Greater Bilby. Data indicated that children gained new knowledge, changed attitudes and built a repertoire of action/ advocacy strategies in native animal conservation as a result of participating in a forest field adventure. The curriculum and pedagogical features that supported these young children’s learning include: active engagement in a natural environment, learning through curriculum integration at home and at school, anthropomorphic representations of natural elements, making connections with cultural practices, and intergenerational learning. The paper also highlights research strategies that can be usefully and ethically applied when conducting studies involving young children.
In Canada education for sustainable development is not flourishing. This may seem curious as The Decade of Education For Sustainable Development is now well underway. But this isn't a bad news story. There are interesting dynamics at play and many great initiatives are emerging. This assessment is a story too. There are many ways of interpreting events and the analysis presented here is one; there will be others. In telling this story, especially for a brief article, I've made no attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of Canadian activities. Rather, I have taken a closer look at some key events and trends and discussed ways that they might be understood.
The aim of this paper is to address the issue of the coherence of three dimensions of environmental education activities - its substantive purposes; the research informing its policy, organisation and practices; and the professional development processes supporting its practitioners. It will be argued (i) that the purposes of environmental education are socially transformative, (ii) that the dominant approach to research in the field is behaviourist and deterministic, and (iii) that within a context of socially transformative environmental education, the role that the dominant behaviourist approach to research plays in professional development needs to be critically examined. The paper outlines a current international project in environmental education which includes in its aims an exploration of the relationships among environmental education purposes, research and professional development.
Experience in Australia has demonstrated that problems arise when sustainability requirements appear to conflict with individual development rights or local lifestyles. Community partnering between government and the public is therefore of fundamental importance in working towards sustainable development. Unfortunately genuine partnering is only rarely achieved today, and consultation is a poor working alternative. Research at Sutherland Shire Council has concluded that citizens are prepared to undertake genuine partnering, including personal involvement in understanding and initiating lifestyle changes. However such willingness is subject to being provided with adequate information and with a genuine government commitment to take action. The paper describes a local environmental risk assessment procedure which successfully informs citizens about local risks and which demonstrates government commitment to openness and facts-based sustainability planning.
Narrative is fundamental to our diverse capacities to remember, to provide an account of self, and to represent our actions, motivations and place in society. The narrative mode is concerned with central aspects of the human condition--commitments and personal agency; motivations and emotions; collective experiences and cultural histories and myths. As such it is concerned with relationships between people, their activities within particular places and the ethics that arise in these specific relationships. This paper explores the role of narrative as a pedagogical device and as a form of thinking and valuing for students to use in their everyday interactions. In particular, it considers why a combination of environmental narrative, drama and deep attentive reflection sits so well with the emerging pedagogies of "place", and why this alliance is such an effective means for allowing individuals to experience, understand and value for themselves the entwined and sensorial connections that exist between people and place. Based on a year-long values education case study in eight primary schools, we describe and theorise about why such a narrative approach to pedagogy, when linked to deep attentive experiences in nature, is so effective in developing a new kind of place-based body/mind meaning-making and learning that inspires individuals to engage with both the inner and outer work of sustainability. (Contains 1 figure.)
This paper reviews research literature on the impact of environmental education initiatives on learners' attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. The review focuses on initiatives involving learners of all ages and school-aged learners in particular. The review shows two things. There is some evidence that environmental education initiatives are associated with changed beliefs and attitudes, and this is mainly in the short-term. There is little evidence that environmental education initiatives lead to behavioural change, especially in the longer-term. The review concludes that there is a need for more and better research evidence that behavioural change in learners follows from involvement in environmental education.
This paper presents the findings of the first stage of research on the impact of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) at an independent primary school in Western Australia. A longitudinal (20 year) case study is being conducted, utilising data related to Education for Sustainability (EfS) at the school from 1990-2009. 2005 was a critical year for the school because it marked the beginning of participation in the Sustainable Schools Initiative pilot in Western Australia (AuSSI-WA). The research investigates elements of EfS in operation at the school pre- and post-AuSSI-WA, as well as student and teacher outcomes after involvement in the Initiative. An analysis of the initial data suggests that participation in AuSSI-WA enabled the school to engage with a growing commitment to EfS in the context of a whole - school approach.
The greening of universities has been on the international agenda for at least a decade. While there has been considerable activity at some universities overseas, progress in Australian universities has been less easily identifiable. Also, the term "greening" has often been taken to apply to the operations of a university, whereas the universities' curricular should also be examined. After providing a background to the greening of curricula and operations, this article presents an overview of the current status of Australian universities. The relatively poor progress is discussed in the context of the issues associated with bringing about change in universities, and some proposals are made for facilitating change. (Contains 1 figure.)
Continuum of cultural change approaches for embedding change  
Networks are increasingly recognized as advantageous when creating and embedding cultural change within organisations. This paper seeks to explore and problematise ideas around networks for education for sustainability (EfS), specifically in relation to the implementation of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI), a national, whole-school approach to EfS. In three Australian states - New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – AuSSI has been implemented in different ways. In examining the use of products, facilitators and networks to embed initiatives such as AuSSI in Australian schools, we propose a 'continuum of cultural change strategies' as a framework for thinking about each of these approaches to creating organisational and cultural change for sustainability. We anticipate that such a framework may assist where choices need to be made in relation to the kinds of capacity building processes that might best achieve 'deep and wide' change within schools hoping to engender significant cultural change. Yes Yes
The Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), which is responsible for the management of natural areas in public ownership within Western Australian and wildlife management throughout the state, has entered into a partnership with the University of Notre Dame Australia to deliver some of the units within their Environmental Studies and Tourism programmes. CALM involvement with the university started in 1994 with the provision of occasional guest lecturers and involvement in field excursions with the students over a range of units (eg. during visits to national parks and other sites managed by CALM). More recently, however, CALM have taken the responsibility for presenting two units in their entirety: ES/ BS 181 Ecotourism and Heritage Management andES280/380 Recreation Planning and Management. In addition to the partnership between these two institutions, the two units directly involve local government and the community. This paper presents details of the two units and discusses how this partnership contributes towards community leadership and responsibility and represents effective environmental education. In order to appreciate the educational benefits of the partnership between CALM and the University of Notre Dame Australia, a brief overview of the two units taught by CALM is provided. The Ecotourism and Heritage Management unit focuses on interpretation techniques in natural and cultural heritage area management and the business of cultural and ecotourism. Subjects include interpretive planning, project design and evaluation as well as the planning, design and presentation of ecotours and other guided interpretive activities.
In this paper we suggest that learning about natural history experientially can be thought of as a type of reading, where understanding is developed by using particular skills, processes and content. In our experience, teaching and learning natural history involves the generation of knowledge and understanding through relating direct personal observations of aspects of the natural world to broader cultural and conservation issues. We therefore argue that teaching Australian natural history that reflects the particular social, cultural and environmental circumstances of the place in which it is undertaken requires pedagogical research and informed debate. In this paper we highlight this neglected aspect of pedagogical research within Australian outdoor and environmental education and discuss our experiences of teaching natural history to undergraduate students to stimulate discussion and challenge researchers-educators to develop practices that are informed by the natural history of this continent. (Contains 5 endnotes.)
This year of 1990 is an appropriate time to review the place of environmental education in the Australian school curriculum. After a period in the mid 1980s when environmental issues and political attention to the environment were on the back burner in comparison with economic issues, the environment is again a top international political priority. With Green victories in a number of European elections, even the hitherto unmindful Thatcher government in Britain is claiming an environmental concern and announcing several conservation measures, albeit with rather distant targets compared with a number of their prospective partners in Europe. The Hawke government in its third term sensed a growing environmental disenchantment among its supporters, and appointed one of its heavy-weights to the Environment portfolio. This move, and the strong action he took over several sensitive issues, were enough to keep the Green preferences in line and ensure in 1990 a fourth, unprecedented Labor term of office. The first Australian government involving official Green support appeared in Tasmania and in most of the other states the governments have upgraded Conservation and the Environment among their ministries. Most Australians, according to a poll conducted late in May (The Age, 15 June, 1990), feel that the threat to the environment is real, and that its protection should be put ahead of economic growth. Such strong public support for the environment would have been unthinkable a decade ago, even though the evidence for much of the now widely recognised damage to the Australian and global environment was available.
The first review of environmental education in Australia was undertaken by Linke (1980) in 1973/4. The Curriculum Corporation on behalf of the Government Department of the Environment and Heritage undertook a second national review in 2002. The purpose of the review was to provide evidence for the development of future national initiatives in environmental education and as advice for environmental education practioners. Curriculum documents were reviewed to identify the existence of 147 indicators of environmental education within outcomes and objectives of curriculum documents in the compulsory years of schooling through to senior secondary. The similarities between the two reviews are evident in the identification of Science and Social Science in the compulsory years of schooling as having. direct references to environmental education. Geography at the senior secondary level also had significant explicit reference to environmental education. However, there were differences. The 2003 review identified environmental studies as a new secondary level subject that has environmental education objectives. It also identified a broader range of learning areas including Arts, Health and Physical Education, English and Technology which provided opportunities for the development of environmental education.
Supporting urban communities to make changes that contribute to sustainable living is a challenge that many environment and conservation organisations embrace. However, many community education and involvement initiatives to date have tended to appeal mostly to those with knowledge and enthusiasm for protection and conservation of the environment, leaving the majority of the community relatively unengaged. In a NSW Environmental Trust supported initiative seeking to enhance the protection and conservation of wildlife in urban environments, a major social research project was undertaken to investigate community understandings of wildlife conservation, for application to urban community education programs. The research incorporated both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to gain insights that practitioners can use to develop, monitor and evaluate urban environment and conservation initiatives that engage and involve the wider community. This paper presents some key findings of the research and provides case examples of environmental education initiatives bringing this research into practice. The research indicates that community understandings of conservation are broad ranging. The research reveals that prominent conservation language and concepts, well understood by keen and knowledgable environmental educators, have little relevance to mainstream audiences. Other findings identify how conservation can have high relevance and meaning for the broader community as an integral part of their everyday life. (Contains 1 table and 4 figures.)
Concern for the environment has traditionally been associated with youth. Studies in the USA over the past twenty-five years have consistently shown that environmental concern declines with age (Buttel, 1979; Van Liere and Dunlap, 1980; Lowe, Pinhey and Grimes, 1980; Lowe and Pinhey, 1982; Honnold, 1981, 1984; Mohai and Twight, 1987; Arcury and Christianson, 1990). Just why this is so has been a matter of some dispute; the ‘aging’ hypothesis suggests that it is due to the socio-biological aging process; the ‘cohort’ hypothesis points to the differential influence of important historical events on birth cohorts, particularly in their formative years; and the “period” hypothesis proposes that both of these processes can be over-ridden as all age cohorts adapt to changing social, cultural and economic circumstances. Both the ‘cohort’ hypothesis (Mohai and Twight, 1987; Samdahl and Robertson, 1989) and the ‘period’ hypothesis (Honnald, 1984) have received some support. A recent study in Australia (Blaikie, 1992) has offered some support for the ‘cohort’ hypothesis but has shown that the relationship between age and Ecological World View (environmental attitudes) is curvi-linear rather than linear. The strongest commitment to an Ecological World View (EWV) is to be found in a middle-aged cohort; younger cohorts hold a middle position and older cohorts have the lowest level of commitment. It would appear that this middle-aged cohort was influenced in its youth by the earlier wave of environmental concern in the 1970s, and it has either maintained this level of concern, or had it revived in the more recent wave. Today's younger generation has not reached this same level of concern, perhaps because of the differences in socio-economic climate between the 1970s and the present, and their greater susceptibility to the effects of the current recession.
Loss of biodiversity and habitats is one of the greatest threats to the environment and education has a critical role to play in addressing this issue. This paper describes a teaching activity for first-year university students studying sustainable resource management at the University of Newcastle which established a partnership between education, government and the community to rehabilitate a nature reserve where biodiversity values were threatened by weed invasion. Students research the problem (weed invasion), quantitatively assess the impacts of weed invasion and management interventions, and work alongside a community-based bushcare group and government agency during on-ground rehabilitation of the reserve. Key outcomes for students have been knowledge and skills relevant to a critical issue for the Australian environment; a more optimistic attitude towards environmental issues and their potential to develop solutions; a positive perspective about the role of community involvement; continued participation in community bushcare groups outside the classroom; and personal involvement in solving a critical environmental issue.
What meanings and values does the community (the general public) attach to the term "sustainability"? As this complex concept is widely used in academic, political and policy arenas and gradually becomes embedded at institutional level, it is possible that the community does not share the understandings of sustainability that are guiding developments in many spheres which affect their lives. Use of terminology at policy level which is unfamiliar to the community is not unusual, so does it matter in the case of "sustainability"? This paper reviews research, both qualitative and quantitative, undertaken between 2000 and 2004 for the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation in the context of development of a sustainability education program known as "Our Environment: It's a Living Thing". This research both explored understanding and concepts of sustainability and developed a community segmentation on the basis of environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. The implications of this research for future research and for programs aimed at developing community understanding of, and commitment to, sustainability are also discussed. (Contains 6 tables.)
The Study Area: Bundjalung Boundaries
Despite increased engagement of Indigenous representatives as participants on consultative panels charged with processes of natural resource management, concerns have been raised by both Indigenous representatives and management agencies regarding the ability of Indigenous people to have quality input into the decisions these processes produce. In order to determine how to more effectively engage Australian Aboriginal peoples in the management process, this article describes the results of interviews with Elders of the Bundjalung Nation and other Indigenous representatives who represent their community’s interests on natural resource management boards within their traditional country. Community representatives identified the factors they considered important in understanding natural resource management and administrative processes and where training would enable them to make a significant contribution to the consultation process. It also highlighted a need for non-Indigenous managers to gain a greater understanding of Indigenous knowledge systems and protocols.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC)'s Bushfire Program is unique amongst conservation organisations. The Program has been running for over ten years, focusing its campaign work mainly on government policy, legislation and commissions of inquiry. However, the Program was originally initiated to provide support to over 70 conservation representatives on bushfire management committees (from state to regional levels) In 2003, the Community Bushfire Education Project (CBEP), which is funded by the Environment Trust (ET), was developed as an extension of the Bushfire Program. The CBEP's main focuses have included coordinating community and professional workshops, field trips and school visits. The design and advocacy principles of the Bushfire Program have been significantly influenced by the CBEP. Principles associated with Education for Sustainability, including capacity building, partnerships and critical thinking, have been key drivers in this. Traditionally, the NCC Bushfire Program has been a strong advocate of enforcing environmental assessment and controls through regulation. However, to date, bushfire regulations have only had limited success in changing unsustainable practices. We have learnt that a complimentary approach to regulation is voluntary action. This entails a participatory approach to bushfire management planning. We feel this change in philosophy can apply to all land management and environmental issues and may parallel a larger shift within the environment movement. Through this paper we will show how the Bushfire Program has developed to incorporate community education as a central pillar of, rather than in addition to, its core campaign; the difficulties this presents and the strengths it provides. The NCC now sees community participation and empowerment as a key component of any natural resource management campaign.
Small business environmental training requirements.
Positive and negative elements in small business training.
Traditionally, environmental education has been aimed at the community or in primary schools and governmental pressure to reduce environmental damage has focussed on large businesses. More recently, the role and importance of small business and how to engage them in the environmental debate has come under scrutiny. Researchers have identified education as one method of increasing the understanding of small business owner-managers’ role and knowledge of practices that, when implemented, will reduce the negative impacts of their businesses. However, there is little attention given in the literature to the perspective of the small business owner-manager and environmental education. This research was conducted to fill this gap. Results confirm that there is limited environmental education for small businesses and that there is a disconnect in meeting the needs of such a disparate group. Six elements were identified by the small business owner-managers in the design of environmental education for them: use of plain language, provision of best practice examples, industry specific information, solutions for immediate improvement, practical content and use of trusted sources to deliver the program. As Tilley (1999, p.347) so aptly stated, although “the relationship between small business and the environment is complex … neglect the small firm at your peril”.
In 1993, John Fien wrote Education for the Environment: Critical Curriculum Theorizing and Environmental Education. Applying a critical perspective to his own ideas, he concluded the book with an examination of three criticisms that deep ecologists would make of critical environmental education. Acknowledging the validity of much of their case, he concluded that the critical curriculum theory of education for the environment proposed in the book was an incomplete one, and that “more theorizing, reflection, action, and more reflection again” would be necessary to develop the ideas more fully than they were. In this paper, which was the Professorial Lecture he presented on 14 May 2003, he returned to this task seeking to broaden the theoretical frameworks of environmental education to encompass deep and wide caring for human and non-human nature.
Greta’s sign for saving water. 
Ladder of children's participation (Hart, 1997)
The early childhood education field has been slow to take up the challenge of sustainability. However, Brisbane’s Campus Kindergarten is one early education centre that is making serious efforts in this regard. In 1997, Campus Kindergarten initiated its Sustainable Planet Project involving a variety of curriculum and pedagogical activities that have led to enhanced play spaces, reduced waste, lowered water consumption and improved biodiversity. Such changes are not curriculum ‘add-ons’, however. A study of curriculum decision-making processes shows that a culture of sustainability permeates the centre. This has been by a process of slowly evolving changes that have led to a reculturation of many social and environmental practices. This study also shows that very young children, in the presence of passionate and committed teachers, are quite capable of engaging in education for sustainability and in ‘making a difference’.
Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres provide programs that are designed to address a range of environmental education aims, and contribute broadly to student learning for sustainability. This paper examines the roles such Centres can play, and how they might contribute to the Australian Government's initiative in relation to sustainable schools. Interviews with the principals of 23 such Centres in Queensland revealed three roles or models under which they operate: the destination model; the expert/advisor model; and the partnership model. Principals' understandings of these roles are discussed and the factors that support or hinder their implementation are identified. It is concluded that while the provision of programs in the environment is still a vital role of outdoor and environmental education centres, these can also be seen as a point of entry to long-term partnerships with whole school communities.
Using interpretive techniques to convey information about cane toads
Interpretive signs are used extensively in tourism and leisure settings to convey important messages and concepts to visitors. While the installation of signs ensures information is widely available and can be repeatedly accessed by large numbers of visitors, their static and inflexible nature means interpretive signs have to be particularly well- designed if they are to interpret topics in a manner that visitors find attractive, interesting and meaningful. This paper provides suggestions for how the six key features of interpretation can be successfully incorporated into signs, and arises from research conducted while developing a website to illustrate 'best practice' design of signs and exhibits. The paper concludes with the Interpretive Signs Checklist which consists of a set of criteria against which interpretive signs can be judged. This checklist is designed to be used 'in situ', and provides a systematic, objective tool for designing new signs as well as evaluating and improving existing signage
In recent years discussions surrounding early childhood curriculum has focused on the movement from developmental to sociocultural theory. A further area worthy of investigation involves the role of content in early childhood education, specifically the relationship between content, context and pedagogy. The paper draws on teacher vignettes to consider how environmental education can be represented as a content area in early years education. Issues associated with environmental education as an emerging area of importance in early childhood education are also discussed. (Contains 3 figures.)
Sustainability is a contested concept. Whilst the "triple bottom line" is sometimes used to describe the economic, social and ecological dimensions of sustainability, there are differing conceptions of what this notion implies. There are nevertheless some recurring themes that are outlined in this paper. There has also been some convergence in notions of "sustainable communities" and "healthy communities". Balanced integration of economic, social and ecological dimensions remains a challenge for policy-makers, educators and community members. (Contains 4 figures and 1 endnote.)
Community gardens fulfil many roles, including the reclamation of public space, community building, and the facilitation of social and cultural expression. This paper discusses a nexus between research and education for sustainability that evolved out of an examination of the role of community gardens in fostering community development and neighbourhood improvement in Sydney's Waterloo Public Housing Estate. It argues that they are also an educational resource providing a valuable platform for learning about multiple dimensions of sustainability. The paperis based on interdisciplinary research undertaken by a team from UNSW's Faculty of the Built Environment and the School of Social Work. The findings of this research affirm the importance of community gardens for public housing tenants, and present the gardens and their associated activities as an effective platform for education for sustainability.
The beauty and freshness of fractal geometry suggests that once again we are at the start of science and mathematics… women and men will look back on this era much as we look back to the early Greeks. (Barnsley, 1989, p. 5) Such enthusiasm for a perceived new paradigm in the mathematical sciences is beginning to emerge within broader educational contexts (Devaney & Keen, 1989; Egnatoff, 1989; Geake, 1990a & 1990b). Much of the interest in fractal geometry has focussed on its ability to describe complex natural phenomena (Mandelbrot, 1983 & 1990; Pickover, 1987; Barnsley, 1988). Recent investigations into the visual perception of natural imagery have used fractal mathematics in describing the characteristics of such perception (Pentland, 1984; Field, 1987; Peli, 1990). This study examined human visual perception of the fractal form found in the natural environment. Specifically, this research project examined how exposure to a program of fractal computer graphics affected the perceptual sensitivity of primary school children to the natural visual environment. The underpinning rationale was to address a long standing challenge of Linke (1980) to develop a stronger theoretical basis for environmental education in Australia.
This paper reports the beginnings of an exploration of the effects of tertiary level environmental education, based on Ecologically Sustainable Development criteria, on the development of students' environmental attitudes and behaviours. Baseline data has been collected against which changes in attitudes and behaviours can be monitored. Important factors influencing students' current attitudes and behaviours include their personal experiences, books and magazines, schooling and newspapers. Significant differences in students’ responses were recorded against three socio-demographic variables—age, gender and the degree program enrolled in. Respondents' value systems have been recorded; their relationship to other study variables requires further research.
Discusses the technique of conceptual analysis to communicate the meanings of difficult concepts in environmental education. Illustrates the technique for the concepts sustainable development education and education for sustainable development. Presents research needs that arise from the discussions. (MDH)
Lessons from a pilot introduction of environmental education into a teacher education programme designed to address pupil disengagement from school science, are discussed in this paper. Pre-service teachers discovered that environmental education can be a potent context for creativity and continuity in curriculum planning. Interpretation of the responses demonstrates that environmental education can be used to develop scientific and eco-literacy and that pre-service teachers can be imaginative when offered the opportunity to link disparate areas of science in this context, but the timing of the intervention appears to be critical. Exposure to school culture appears to inhibit their ability to plan imaginatively. This has implications for pre-service teacher education and practising teachers internationally, if pupil disenchantment with science is to be halted.
The instrumental relationship to nature and the realist epistemology that dominate the analysis of contemporary environmental issues have prompted me to develop an interest in a socialized conception of science in environmental education (EE) so as to throw into question a certain overappreciation of scientific expertise whenever the environment is at issue. This interest in an epistemological renewal has also impelled me to favour the socioconstructivist model of cognition in EE. The relevance of these various aspects is presented to the reader as the extension of a necessary epistemological renewal in EE, as various authors in this field of research have advocated. (Contains 5 endnotes.)
We are living in an era of market-driven, globalised economies characterised by reduced public investments in what, until now, have been considered public goods and services. In Australia and elsewhere, education, and higher education in particular, has seen steady declines in government funding. This has prompted universities to become much more entrepreneurial and to seek out new funding opportunities to support their teaching and research activities. This paper reflects on the personal and professional dilemmas and challenges we faced as two early career environmental education researchers who were commissioned to undertake research for a private corporation. As a result of issues raised during this process, we engaged in a critical reflection of our perceptions and feelings about our involvement in the project. In essence, dilemmas and challenges centred around two issues: (1) control/ownership of the research; and (2) the clash between corporate and university values.This paper explores these issues and suggests that greater mindfulness on the part of individual researchers as well as the development of better university-corporate partnership processes and protocols might provide useful starting points for overcoming such dilemmas and for moving forward with university-corporate research partnerships.
The purpose of this article is to review and integrate a number of concepts and perspectives recently developed or revived which challenge society's current attitudes towards the environment. The concepts discussed include, for example, ecophilosophy and deep ecology, holism, cultural transformation, the Gaia hypothesis, transpersonalism and world, national and state conservation strategies. It is concluded that the notion of living in harmony with nature is central to any view spirituality. The implications of this view in terms of individual personal action are discussed.
School gardens provide a unique learning environment for English as Second Language (ESL) students; students are able to engage in experiential outdoor learning that will enhance in-class lessons. This study evaluated the effects of school gardening on ESL students' learning about good nutrition. Data collected indicated that there were positive gains in student learning and feelings of belonging to the school community. Indications from the study suggest that teacher attitudes play a big part in ESL student engagement in the learning process for environmental education. Garden-enhanced lessons about nutrition provided experiential learning for ESL students that effectively supported in-class learning.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between national economic and political priorities and environmental education policy formulation and curriculum strategies. This relationship will be placed in the historical context of developments in environmental education in Australia from 1970 until the present and will be analysed in terms of the ideological and pedagogical stances implicit, and explicit, in the developments during this period. I will argue that the emphasis throughout the period has been to sustain the development of environmental education without any questioning of why, what and how this development should occur. ‘Sustainable development’ has become a slogan for governments, industry and conservation groups in recent times. It was the subtitle for the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN 1980) and the National Conservation Strategy for Australia (DHAE 1984) - living resource conservation for sustainable development - and was popularised in the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, more commonly known as the Brundtland Report or Our Common Future (WCED 1987). The definition of sustainable development given in the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN 1980: section 1.3) and repeated in the National Conservation Strategy for Australia (DHAE 1984: 12) is as follows: Development is…the modification of the biosphere and the application of human, financial, living and non-living resources to satisfy human needs and improve the quality of human life. For development to be sustainable it must take account of social and ecological factors, as well as economic ones; of the living and nonliving resource base; and of the long term as well as the short term advantages and disadvantages of alternative actions.
This paper presents the findings of a small-scale research project about student teachers' perceptions and experiences of environmental education. The context of this study is a pre-service teacher education faculty in rural New South Wales, Australia. A combined methods approach was applied, with a survey designed from rich data elicited through focus group interviews. The focus of this paper is on the findings of the survey, revealing that prospective teachers' preparedness in environmental education is diluted by their teacher education experience and that such experiences are not providing a stimulus for novice teachers to practice environmental education. (Contains 3 tables, 3 figures and 3 endnotes.)
Social and environmental education are two sides of a coin. Each has similar student-centred goals that see an understanding of society or the environment and one's place within it as a medium for achieving some of the long term goals of education. The similarities between the two have not been recognised nearly as much as they could have been, though Disinger (1982) among others has recognized international, global, futures, population and values education (all long established themes in social education) as imperatives in environmental education. Both social and environmental education seek to help young people identify, understand and desire to resolve the problems that confront humanity.
Top-cited authors
Allen Hill
  • Ara Institute of Canterbury
Ian Thomas
  • Durham University
Matthias Barth
  • Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde
John Buchanan
  • University of Technology Sydney
Catherine Baudains
  • Murdoch University